14 February 2016

Mozambique: Back to War - New Renamo Attacks On N1

Photo: J. Jackson/VOA
Renamo rebels being trained for combat at a remote bush camp (file Photo).

Renamo returned to war with attacks Thursday and Friday on the N1, the main north-south road, in Sofala province. Eight cars were shot at; six people were injured but there were no fatalities.

Renamo action on the road was announced Monday 8 February at a press conference in Beira by Renamo head of mobilization in Sofala, Horacio Calavete. He said Renamo would set up armed road blocks and "control points" on the N1. He said the decision was taken personally by Renamo head Afonso Dhlakama, who is currently living in a Renamo base in Satunjira, Gorongosa, Sofala.

The decision was taken at a meeting Saturday with Renamo generals and other military personnel, who, Calavete said, demanded "measures" be taken in protest in response to the murder and kidnapping of Renamo members and officials "every day".

Renamo secretary general Manuel Bissopo was seriously injured and his bodyguard killed in a drive-by shooting in Beira on Wednesday 20 January. Dhlakama's convoy was shot at on 12 and 25 September last year.

From April 2013 until June 2014 Renamo attacked traffic along a heavily wooded 100 km section of the N1 between the River Save and Muxungué, in Sofala. Two of the attacks were in the same stretch of road, all on individual vehicles.

On Friday morning 12 February gunmen attacked a car and truck, injuring two people. On Thursday morning 11 February five vehicles were attacked and three people injured. One of the vehicles attacked on Thursday was a Ministry of Health truck carrying medicines. Canalmoz claims that Ministry of Health vehicles, including ambulances, have been used to transport weapons.

The other attack was in a different area, Nhamapaza, Maringue, closer to Dhlakama's base. A vehicle carrying four people came under fire, and one person was injured.

There has also been an attack in the village of Nzero on the boundary between Mopeia and Morrumbala districts and on the N1 north-south road.

Renamo has established its "General Staff Headquarters" at Sabe, Morrumbala, 20 km from Nzero and appears to be trying to clear police and government presence from around the base. On 28 January Renamo attacked a police and forestry position at Nzero, injuring three forest wardens. The attack was not on road traffic but did disrupt traffic. (AIM 29 Jan, 1, 9, 12, 14 Feb; Noticias 12, 13 Feb; Canalmoz 12 Feb)

+ There are now 4000 Mozambican refugees in Malawi, who have fled fighting between Renamo and the government in Tete, but who largely blame the government. However the Mozambican police say that on 5 February they arrested two soldiers who attacked a truck on 3 February and tried to rob it. They were using the army guns and wearing their military uniforms. (AIM 10 Feb)

+ An agent of the special protection unit for high officials in Chimoio (Forcas de Proteccao de Altas Individualidades - FPAI) has been arrested for being part of a gang of armed robbers. (AIM Pt 13 Feb)

+ Six Renamo gunmen shot a community leader, Cipriano Sineque, and his son in Bebedo, Nhamatanda, Sofala, on 5 February. The head of the Bebedo locality, Bernabe Ndapitaia, who accompanied the wounded men to the Beira hospital, said that Renamo is targeting traditional chiefs and community leaders, in an attempt to weaken these authorities. This was the fourth such incident in the area. "All the community leaders in that area no longer sleep at home, because they are afraid the Renamo men will come after them", said Ndapitaia. "The Renamo men have drawn up a list of their victims". "Fear has spread through the area", he added.

"People are even afraid to go to their fields." (AIM, Noticias 8 Feb) Police report that four village chiefs in Sofala have been kidnapped by Renamo. (AIM 1 Feb)

+ Renamo guerrillas raided the town of Maringue, Sofala of 3 February, burning houses and injuring two people. After the end of the war in 1992, Renamo maintained a base in Maringue, with the tacit acceptance of the government. (AIM, Noticias 4 Feb)

+ Renamo spokesperson Antonio Muchanga, interviewed in Noticias (2 Feb), said talks between Dhlakama and President Filipe Nyusi are impossible because Dhlakama fears for his life if he leaves Satunjira.

+ Police claim Renamo guerrillas attacked and killed a tractor driver distributing water is drought affected Chigubo, Gaza, on 30 January.

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